( CNN) The boast is solo sailing, but the real play is human control, says around-the-world racer Alex Thomson.

The quadrennial classic, which celebrates its 40 th anniversary this year, will take the fastest boats in the 120 -strong fleet fewer than 10 dates to clear the 3,452 -mile trip.

If sailing solo around the world in the grueling Vendee Globe is “close to the edge, ” says Thomson, who was second after 74 epoches at sea in the 2016 -2 017 edition, the Route du Rhum is “right on the edge.”

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